My 13-year-old and I fight about whether you pronounce it: “DAY-go-ba” or “Dah-GO-ba.”
We also disagree on the types we like best. I prefer milk chocolate. She and my husband like dark, dark, dark. We all like that 95 percent of the ingredients are organic.
We’ve been passing the Dagoba Chocolate Tasting Room signs on Highway 66 and Siskiyou Boulevard south of town for years now. But even though we’ve lived in Ashland for almost nine years and we all love chocolate, no one in my family has ever visited the tasting room.
Perhaps because I’ve heard grumbles about it from other locals. There’s not much to see. It’s hard to find out when it’s open. There’s no factory tour.
But last month we finally took the plunge. After dropping the 9-year-old at soccer camp, the 3-year-old and I drove to the tasting room. We were half an hour early. We waited on a bench.
First I will tell you that when they finally opened the doors we had a good time there and stayed for over an hour. There were lots of free samples and we tried every kind of chocolate. We bought some chocolate to give as gifts. We examined the chocolate grinding machine and the bean pods. We did not touch either. There were big signs telling us not to do so. We followed these directives.
Now I will tell you the rest of the story: We walked into the shop and the clerk behind the desk did not say hello or welcome, did not ask us if we’d been there before, did not indicate in any way that we should be in the store. In fact he sighed. I think he stayed up too late the night before. I think he was sorry to be at work. I am hoping it wasn’t personal. But then I asked this brusque young man if I could take a photograph.
“I don’t actually know,” he answered curtly. “I’ll go find out.” He was gone for quite a while. I could have snapped some pictures. But I did not. As mentioned above, I was trying to follow directions.
His supervisor came bustling out.
“Oh, no, no. No photographs,” she said.
“I can’t take a picture of my daughter in your shop?” I asked.
“Well. No. Well. We have competitive pricing here and we would not want to see that on the Internet.”
I will try to translate: I think she meant that the chocolate is less expensive if you buy it from the Dagoba retail store than it is if you buy it at a chocolate boutique or the supermarket. Why she would not want people to know that, I cannot fathom. (Shh, don’t tell anyone. Don’t come to the tasting room to, gasp, buy chocolate or anything. Above all, don’t take a photograph of you or your family members enjoying being there and then post said photo on the internet.)
She did finally agree to let me take some photos just of my daughter in a place that she specified as long as there were no priced Dagoba products in the frame (I kid you not). And she also kindly took one photograph of me.
The attitude in the tasting room perplexed me. Ashland is a tourist town. You will find the nicest most courteous people in the world here–store owners, shop clerks, tourists, locals, everyone.
Dagoba was bought by the Hersey Company in 2006. It is no longer an Ashland-owned company. You can look through a viewing window and watch them package up their chocolates. HERSEY’S is printed in big lettering on the side of the boxes.
It would be convenient to blame the discourtesy on the fact that they are no longer a locally-owned locally-accountable company. Let’s do that.
In the meantime, it’s worth a stop on your Ashland itinerary. Avoid Monday mornings. Go with low expectations. Try all the chocolates. Leave your camera in the car.
If you go:
Dagoba Organic Chocolate
1105 Benson Way
Ashland, OR 97520
Hours: Monday through Friday – 10 am to 4 pm
Project Discover Ashland Oregon is a series of posts chronicling my attempts to learn more about our home town. Read the rest:
On the docket: A backstage tour of a local ice cream shop (it says on the door that tours are available), a visit to a psychic (dare I do it? Ashland is very hooey-wooey. People talk about their great morning meditations and energy work. I’ve yet to muster up the courage but I’m going soon. Stay tuned.)